The UFC always wants to put on a good show when the quarterly FOX card comes around, and that usually means stacking the fight card with heavy hitters. It appears that this weekend’s card will be no different. We’ll consider other performances metrics like wrestling later, but first let’s see who has the heaviest hands (and feet) among the fighters competing this weekend.
For more on these and other MMA performance metrics, get the book “Fightnomics.”
Best in Class Slugger The most dangerous striker on the card this weekend is also one of the most fun to watch. Edson Barboza has logged more knockdowns (eight) than anyone else competing Saturday, and his Knockdown Rate is more than twice the Heavyweight average. So competing at just Lightweight, Barboza clearly strikes above his weight class. Part of the reason his stats are so good is his kicking game, as kicks are generally more powerful than punches, but he can get a KO either way. Other Heavy Hitters And yet as good as Barboza has been proven to be in his impressive UFC run, opponent Paul Felder is off to a similarly dangerous start in his young UFC career to date. Felder, like Barboza, is a decorated striker. Neither man attempts many takedowns, and both have been dropped. So this striking duel is going to be impressive and dangerous from both sides of the cage. Ramsey Nijem is a wrestler, but has also demonstrated dangerous striking on occasion. This may surprise some, as he has most recently fallen to strikes in his last outing, but Nijem is still a talented fighter all around. He’s been selected as the first test for UFC newcomer, and undefeated prospect, Andrew Holbrook. Another guy more known for his wrestling who can also throw bombs is Tom Lawlor. Lawlor has never been dropped, and owns a KOTN bonus for his 50-second finish of Jason MacDonald. Daron Cruickshank, like Barboza and Felder, is a skilled Tae Kwon Do striker. His knockouts have often included kicks as an important element on the way to scoring five UFC knockdowns, and his matchup with Krause is sure to be a striker vs grappler scenario. Eddie Wineland’s seven Zuffa knockdowns place him second behind Barboza on this card. Given the significant stylistic differences with his grappler opponent, Bryan Carraway, it’s safe to say Wineland is going to try hard to keep this fight standing. Yet another wrestler, and yet another guy who has scored knockdowns at a high rate. Castillo has had his share of highlights and lowlights, but his wrestling base is always on backup if his hands don’t get it done. Still, he probably doesn’t want to spend too much time toe-to-toe with the always tough Jim Miller. Joe Lauzon is the all-time leader in post-fight bonuses, and while most of those were due to his submissions and overall aggressive fighting style, it was his hands that allowed him to burst onto the UFC roster with a huge upset KO over Jens Pulver in Lauzon’s debut. Renan Barao is a “monster,” but his matchup with Dillashaw in terms of power is close to a tie, as both men punch above their division’s average. Barao gets the slight edge based on his historical knockdown rate, but in the last two fights for each man, Dillashaw wins in a blowout. Their matchup this time around will attract even more scrutiny now that everyone realizes that Barao is beatable, and that Dillashaw really is that good. Middle of the Pack Ben Saunders has one of the nastier clinch games around, and the UFC’s only omoplata submission ever. But the two knockdowns he’s scored in his UFC career puts him about average for his division, however, still higher than his opponent this weekend. Gian Villante is moving his way up the ranks with the help of training partner Chris Weidman. Villante now has two knockout finishes, but on a punch-for-punch basis doesn’t stand out just yet. Lightweight veteran Jim Miller comes closest to the pin for true “average” in the UFC, but it’s safe to say that knockouts aren’t really his best weapon. Rather it’s his submissions, which have secured far more of his career victories. Still Waiting Kenny Robertson and Takanori Gomi have each scored knockouts in their careers, but in the UFC have still failed to do the same kind of damage as their peers. Both fighters are facing skilled submission artists, so now would be the time to unleash their power on their feet. James Krause, Bryan Carraway, Miesha Tate, and Jessica Eye all have yet to score a knockdown in Zuffa competition. And of those fighters, there is also some concern over their ability to withstand a punch. Krause has been knocked down three times, and Tate has been dropped four times. Krause, Carraway, and Tate are likely to take their fights to the ground, while Jessica Eye will be hoping to keep it standing against Tate and in search of her first knockdown. For information on getting the “Fightnomics” the book, go here.